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Spector Hires New Defense Attorneys

August 25, 2004|Joy Buchanan | Times Staff Writer

Legendary music producer Phil Spector has changed defense teams for the second time while awaiting trial on a murder charge, selecting a New York lawyer known for defending the late John Gotti and earning the mobster the nickname "Teflon Don."

On Monday, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Carlos A. Uranga approved Spector's selection of New York attorney Bruce Cutler and Los Angeles attorney Roger J. Rosen.

"I'm happy to be in, and I've got a lot of work to do," Cutler said. "I'm pleased to be standing in court for Phil. I like him very much."

Cutler said he had been serving as Spector's "personal attorney and confidant" since January and said they have known each other for a long time.

Spector, 63, who has been charged in the shooting death of Lana Clarkson at his Alhambra home, will no longer be represented by Arcadia attorney Leslie H. Abramson, who did not comment on the changes. She had worked with Santa Monica attorney Marcia A. Morrissey, who is also no longer on the case.

Spector is also suing his original lawyer, Robert L. Shapiro, alleging that Shapiro owes him $1 million for the retainer he paid. Shapiro, whose clients have included O.J. Simpson, contends Spector actually owes him $500,000.

Despite the repeated changes in counsel for Spector, Rosen said this would be the last one. "Mr. Cutler and I expect to see the case through with Mr. Spector to the very end," he said.

In November, Spector was charged on suspicion of the Feb. 3, 2003, death of Clarkson, a 40-year-old nightclub hostess he met that night. She was found dead in Spector's mansion from a singlegunshot wound to the mouth. Spector was released on $1-million bail the same day he was arrested.

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